Fledgling IGTV — Instagram’s hub for longer-form, vertical videos — is partnering with media giant BuzzFeed on a new accelerator program that will extend a helping hand to aspiring creators.
The initiative, dubbed VerticalU, will fund passion projects from 15 creators — who will also compete for the opportunity to have their works featured on BuzzFeed’s IGTV channel, Variety reports. BuzzFeed and Instagram say they are looking for works that “represent diverse points of view and underrepresented topics.” Candidates can apply here through Nov. 7.
The program will kick off with a five-day training session in Los Angeles from Dec. 3 to 7 at the headquarters of both BuzzFeed and Instagram (with all travel and lodging expenses included). Courses, taught by BuzzFeed producers and Instagram execs, will cover what makes a video go viral, how vertical and horizontal formats differ, data measurement, and video production basics. After this session concludes, VerticalU participants will each work with a designated BuzzFeed mentor to develop a series idea over the next six weeks, with a one-time grant to cover filming expenses.
The ensuing series will be screened at an event in New York early next year. VerticalU participants will retain the rights to any works created throughout the program, Variety reports, which BuzzFeed will license for distribution on IGTV.
“With 98% of time spent on mobile happening in vertical format, BuzzFeed wants to help content creators develop the skills to crack emerging platforms and grow their audiences on Instagram,” Maycie Timpone, BuzzFeed’s director of social media, told Variety. “Our goal is to push the envelope and find ways to elevate the vertical-first experience for our audience on mobile.”